It’s not completely uncommon for high school athletes, as freshman, to make an impact.
It’s even more common-place in smaller schools, where the talent-pool from which to select players is smaller.
Still, that doesn’t diminish what a trio of Elkhart tracksters have done during the 2011-2012 school year.
Robin Grant, Kayla Johnson and Tiffany Rosas have, between them, lettered in nine varsity sports.
All three have helped Elkhart send a contingent of 10 athletes to the Class 2A, Region III track meet, which kicks off Friday at Whitehouse High School.
“I’m not surprised,” EHS track coach Kodi Huff said. “I had them in seventh grade and eighth grade and I knew they would step up. They’ve stepped up in volleyball, in basketball, softball and now track.
“They have an exceptional group of freshmen. They work hard and they’re determined. They wanted it.”
It’s not as if Johnson, Grant and Rosas are merely standing on the sidelines to earn their varsity letters, either.
Johnson was on the Lady Elks state qualifying cross country team, and was routinely a top-five finisher in the squad.
Both Grant and Rosas are splitting their time this spring between the track team and the playoff-bound Lady Elks softball team. Grant leads the team in batting (.455 average), while Rosas has a team-high 13 RBI.
“In middle school, after track (practice) we could just go home,” Rosas said. But now, we’ve got to go to softball practice. It’s harder (but) I’ve enjoyed it.
“It’s a lot of hard work, but it’ll pay off in the end.”
Added Huff, “That is something new. A lot of times, now they do more than one sport. I think it helps that softball coach (Brandy Martin) work well together and we encourage our kids to do both.”
That’s not all that’s new.
Grant said that practices now are different, and come with a different intensity to them.
“In practice, you don’t run as much but you’ve got to run it harder,” she said. “It’s easier but it’s harder at the same time. It’s different.”
Grant and Rosas also played varsity volleyball, while Grant played varsity basketball.
Each runner in the trio qualified for regionals on a relay team, with both Grant and Johnson also qualifying in an individual event.
Johnson qualified with the 800-meter relay team of Kaydi Joa Smith, Courtney Lindsey and Catie Bridges. She also finished third in the 300-meter hurdles.
Before this season, she wasn’t even a hurdler.
“Last year, I ran solid stuff,” she said. “But this year, she put me in hurdles and I was baffled by it. I kind of surprised myself with (how well I’ve done).”
Grant finished second at district in the 400 meters, while also running on the Lady Elks gold medal winning mile relay team.
Also on that team was Rosas, as was Paige Fillmore and Amanda Ham.
Fillmore and Ham are the program’s current benchmarks, with Fillmore qualifying for regionals in four events, though she’ll only compete in three.
Despite falling in both races, she managed to win the 300-meter hurdles and finish second in the 110s, while also finishing third in the long jump.
Ham, the team’s lone senior, qualified in the 400 and 800 meters, along with the mile relay.
Grant, Johnson and Rosas all spoke very highly of the Lady Elks’ elder-statesman, a veteran of three state cross country meets and winner of numerous track gold medals.
“She’s like a role model,” Rosas said. “I want to be just like her and run just as fast as her.”
Added Johnson, about Ham’s natural athletic ability, “You could give her a tennis racket today and she’d go to state tomorrow.”
While Ham said she wasn’t sure about her tennis skills, she did say she took pride in helping out her younger teammates.
“It feels really good to be able to set an example for them, and I try to set the best example I can for them,” she said. “Just to never give up and try to look at the positives. If you’re going to practice, go out there and do your best at it, don’t half do it.”
Ham knows all too well how fickle things can be at regionals, though. Last year, she came in as the favorite in the 800 meters.
But, on a day when the temperature hovered in the 50s, Ham finished fourth in the event, missing a shot at the state meet.
“I want to take what I experience at the last meet and try to apply it to this one. This is my last one, so I better give it my all because I don’t want to regret not doing my best.”
Field events begin at 9 a.m. Friday at Whitehouse High School, with the shot put, long jump and pole vault.
Running events Friday begin at 2 p.m. with the 3,200 meter finals. Running prelims begin at 2:35 p.m.
On Saturday, field events (Discus, triple jump and high jump) being at 9 a.m., with running finals starting at 2:20 p.m.
Local regional qualifiers
Class 3A (Humble ISD’s Turner Stadium)
Eric Adams, PHS — 800-meter relay
Paul Barksdale, PHS —100 meters, 400-meter relay
Nico Barnard, PHS — 400 meters, 400-meter relay
Tyler Barnard, PHS — 3,200 meters, 1,600 meters
Jadarrius Beasley, PHS — 400-meter relay, 800-meter relay
Donte Brown, PHS — 400-meter relay, 800-meter relay, 200 meters
Ivory Brown, PHS — 1,600-meter relay
Tony Butler, PHS — High jump
Johnnie Dean, PHS — 400 meters, 1,600-meter relay
Devin Miller, WHS — Triple jump
Bryce Newman, PHS — Discus
Nathan Perkins, PHS — Pole vault
Charlie Perry, PHS — Shot put
Denis Quincin, PHS — 3,200 meters
Rashad Redix, PHS — Shot put, Discus
Marcus Robinson, PHS — 1,600-meter relay, 800-meter relay
Walter Sheridan, PHS — Discus
Darrius Stephens, PHS — Triple jump
Chris Thompson, WHS — Long jump
Miguel Varnado, PHS — 800 meters, 1,600 meters
Chris Weaver, PHS — 1,600-meter relay
Rokayah Beavers, PHS — 400-meter relay, 100 meters
Mi’Kayla Benson, WHS — 400-meter relay, 800-meter relay
Kym Davis, WHS — High jump, 400-meter relay, 800-meter relay, 200 meters
Markeisha Durham, WHS — Triple jump, 400-meter relay, 800-meter relay
DeJah Gunnels, PHS — 1,600-meter relay
Breanna Jackson, PHS — 110-meter hurdles, 1,600-meter relay
Stacia Johnson, PHS — 1,600-meter relay
Paradyse Page, PHS — Pole vault, 400-meter relay
McKayla Sander, PHS — Shot put
McKenze Sander, PHS — 1,600 meters
Alana Spurlock, PHS — 100 meters, 400-meter relay, 200 meters
Shundrea Thompson, WHS — 400-meter relay
Marsha Warren, PHS — 400-meter relay, 300-meter hurdles, 1,600-meter relay
Emily Vinson, WHS — 800-meter relay
Lacey Wooden, WHS — 110-meter hurdles
Class 2A (Whitehouse High School)
Luis Banuelos, EHS — Triple jump, 800 meters, 1,600 meters
Treston Coleman, FHS — 400-meter relay
Hunter Douglas, EHS — Pole vault
Benjamin Harmon, FHS — Long jump, Triple jump, 200 meters, 400-meter relay, 800-meter relay
Kevin Kidd, EHS — High jump, 400-meter relay, 1,600-meter relay
Cam Reeves, EHS — 400-meter relay, 1,600-meter relay
Tyler Tutt, EHS — Pole vault, 1,600-meter relay
Michael Warren, FHS — 400-meter relay, 800-meter relay
Nolan Watson, EHS — Shot put
Tevin White, EHS — 400-meter relay
Corey Winks, FHS — 800-meter relay
Caleb Williams, FHS — 400-meter relay, 800-meter relay
Jeffrey Wilson, EHS — 400-meter Relay, 1,600-meter relay
Catie Bridges, EHS — 800 meters, 800-meter relay
Chasity Chambless, EHS — Pole vault
Anna Clark, EHS — 3,200 meters, 1,600 meters
Paige Fillmore, EHS — Long jump, 300-meter hurdles, 110-meter hurdles, 1,600-meter relay
Robin Grant, EHS — 400 meters, 1,600-meter relay
Amanda Ham, EHS — 800 meters, 400 meters, 1,600-meter relay
Kayla Johnson, EHS — 800-meter relay, 300-meter hurdles
Courtney Lindsey, EHS — 800-meter relay
Tiffany Rosas, EHS — 1,600-meter relay
Kaydi Joa Smith, EHS — 800-meter relay
Natasia Warren, FHS — 400 meters
Class 1A (Palestine’s Wildcat Stadium)
Brandon Barrett, NHS — Long jump, 200 meters
Demetri Walker, GHS — 800 meters, 300-meter hurdles, 100-meter hurdles
Riley Benthal, GHS — Pole vault
Shaterrika Campbell, GHS — Long jump, Triple jump, 400-meter relay, 800-meter relay, 200 meters
Cymone Davis, GHS — Shot put
Rosalind McCoy, GHS — 400-meter relay, 800-meter relay, 100 meters, 200 meters
Paige Scott, GHS — 100 meters
Kala Smith, GHS — 400-meter relay, 800-meter relay, 100 meters
Jayde Westbrook, GHS — Long jump, 400-meter relay, 800-meter relay, 100-meter hurdles